The Feverish Critic

In that these are all the movies I watched whilst I was sick! Or snoozed through. Although I have removed from the list anything I actually slept through more than 55% of.

Partly Cloudy with Chance of Meatballs. If you enjoy this sort of thing, you may enjoy this.

It made me dizzy.

And the monkey was annoying.

The Land Before Time. Anna and I watched this before she went to work one day. I have a vague memory that this was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid but I find I had no real recollection of it at all. But, damn, is that T Rex persistent! It must be second cousin to the ones in Jackson’s King Kong remake — goal-oriented behavior in a very serious way.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The new one. It was…good? I guess? I think I would have had a lot more fun with it if I watched it with my old roommate.

I don’t find Nicolas Cage abhorrent and the kid was ok and Alfred Molina was delightful and there just wasn’t enough Alice Krige. I mean, if you’re going to cast Alice Krige as the maleficent sorceress — then, by God, I want tons of evil witchy! Opening and closing scenes only = insufficient! I mean, it was a Disney movie. What are you going to say, really? Oh, I know what to say: was the little blonde goody-two-shoes “heroine” a total waste of time or was it just me? I mean, she was actually quite annoying, wasn’t she? She seemed really…I hate to say this, but really stereotypically “dumb blonde.” Cute and all but…wow. Or is this the decongestant talking and I’m being unkind?

Under the Mountain. I was a little more awake by now and less medicated and this is actually quite good. It’s a rather slow, pretty quiet little Australian flick about a pair of twins — a boy and a girl — who have to reconcile their differences — largely over their relationship as well as reaction to a death in the family — in order to use a (good) alien weapon to destroy (bad) aliens under volcanoes.

Ok, that’s the two-cent version and there isn’t a whole lot of depth to this movie, to be fair. But there is some beautiful photography of New Zealand and some very nice quiet scares. Weta Workshop did good effects and makeup; octopoidy, slimy, kinda evil — nice, middle-of-the-road villain. Oh, and someone scouted a great haunted house location on a lake — full points for that. Sam Neill is fun to watch as always as the helpful alien who’s been hanging around for a few hundred years trying to figure out a way to use his weapons against the nasty invading aliens. Real life kicks in every now and then — check out the family conference after the next-door aliens have melted the front door to get at sister Rachel — but not so much to derail the story. And the end is very satisfying.

In the Mouth of Madness. This, I really should have seen years ago. And I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be horrified by the general shenanigans and goings-on or by Jurgen Prochnow’s hair. What the hell was up with that?

In a more serious vein: John Carpenter. Early 1990s. Cthulhu mythos. Sam Neill. About books. Hell yes.

And it is actually quite good. I’d almost given up on ever watching it after reading some critical reviews that just panned it from one end to the other. I remember when this originally came out and, if my memory serves, a couple of issues of Starlog of which I was a dedicated reader at the time were largely devoted to pictures of Sam Neill running down a slimy hallway.

There isn’t, actually, a lot of slimy-hallway-running when you get right down to it, but there are some really interesting conversations about reality and fiction and how and when and where the two might intersect or become each other.

There are also a fair number of monsters and some seriously creepy kids with a red ball. Also a lot of nods to Lovecraft and King (more or less in that order) with the main plotline — involving John Trent (Neill) as an insurance claims investigator being employed by a publishing house to check out the “disappearance” of their bestselling horror author, Sutter Cane — taking most of its inspiration from “Call of Cthulhu” and a little bit from It. Cane’s editor, Linda Stiles, is practically a walking dissertation on the nebulousness of the horror in Cane’s work as she tries to convince Trent to take the case seriously and, as time goes on, to take what Cane writes seriously, too. In order to investigate the author, Neill first has to figure out where he might have gone — since he turns in all his manuscripts by mail or through his agent and his agent is…unavailable for comment on the question, this involves some serious headscratching.

Sidenote here: it is really satisfying that Carpenter thought to answer the perennial question of all horror films here which is when the heavy brown matter begins to strike the rotating blades, the inevitable question I have is: hasn’t anyone in this film/book ever seen a single horror movie in the entirety of their lives? Not even a single late-night viewing of Nightmare on Elm Street? And the answer in this case is: no. Trent is asked this point-blank in reference to Cane’s work and he answers quite simply that no, he doesn’t like horror or supernatural stuff because he doesn’t find it believable. Great! Fine! Awesome. At least there is an answer.

Additional sidenote: Stiles was great. She’s half a believer when she takes off with Trent on their doomed road trip and her willingness to deal with what’s in front of her as opposed to what she “knows” must be true is heartwarming. It doesn’t make her sliding slithering fall any less inevitable, of course, but at least she knows what the hell is really going on.

Once Cane’s location is discovered — after the creep starts to set in — Trent and Stiles set off to locate an apparently fictitious small town in New Hampshire called Hobb’s End. Weird shit happens on the way and weirder shit happens once they hit town. Are Cane’s books deforming the town or has the town deformed Cane? Perhaps reality is just straight-up deformed and we’ve been fighting it all along and now gravity, so to speak, is reasserting itself.

Trent fights the good fight but, as is inevitable with all Lovecraft mythos heroes, loses. Dramatically.

Not to give away the game, but I loved the end. Shades of Danny Boyle all over the place.